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Economic evaluation of farm energy audits and benchmarking of energy use on vegetable farms (VG13054)

Key research provider: Infotech Research
Publication date: Monday, December 22, 2014

What was it all about?

Energy management is a key to successful vegetable growing and processing. Energy audits are one way to save power, by allowing growers to gain an understanding of energy costs and opportunities for energy savings.

This project, carried out in 2014, set out to identify energy efficiency improvement opportunities for individual growers and the wider grower industry through energy audits, as well as to benchmark energy consumption of growers.

Twenty two representative growers from major growing regions took part. All participating growers had relatively large energy demands due to the size of their enterprise and running greenhouses or processing plants.

On site visits allowed the researchers to undertake level 2 energy audits to assess energy demand and measure use when processes were active. They looked at electricity and diesel use.

The data were used to calculate the main energy consuming activities for each grower. They found that cool stores and irrigation pumping used the most electricity.

On average, each audit provided 15 opportunities for saving energy, which together would result in a reduction of around 15 per cent for the grower. These energy saving opportunities would amount to 6,196 GJ per year with a value of approximately $400,000 p.a.

In total, 74 opportunities to save energy on farm were identified with 69 of these costed with savings and payback periods calculated.

The researchers concluded that medium sized growers benefit most from energy audits.

In addition, the project produced benchmarks for energy consumption relative to outputs, or the size of the farm, cool store, or crop being irrigated.

The research team recommended that growers investigate their own energy use with an energy audit and then set a target of energy reduction to achieve.

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Details

ISBN:
978-0-7341-3473-8

Funding statement:
This project has been funded by Hort Innovation

Copyright:
Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2014. The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).